The makeup artist behind Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein movie Maestro has said he didn’t expect the backlash to the film’s prosthetic nose, which has been criticised by some as an example of ‘jewface’.
Speaking at the Venice Film Festival press conference for the film, Kazu Hiro was asked about the social media backlash: “I wasn’t expecting it to happen. I feel sorry if I hurt some people’s feeling. I wanted to portray Lenny as real as possible. He’s photogenic and a great person, we wanted to respect and love that look. We did several different tests. That was our [only] intention.”
The movie has been the subject of some controversy in recent weeks due to Cooper — who is not Jewish — using prosthetics to enlarge his nose to capture Jewish composer. Bernstein’s family has defended the actor-director.
The creative team today described how the makeup process took up to five hours when Cooper was portraying Bernstein as an older man with that process sometimes starting at 2am so that it didn’t impact on filming hours.
Bernstein’s daughter Jamie and the production team behind the movie were also on hand on the Lido as Cooper himself was unable to attend due to the SAG-AFTRA strike. The Netflix film is ineligible for an interim agreement.
Jamie Bernstein reiterated that she and her siblings were “honoured” to be a part of the “inclusive” process and that it was a genuine collaboration with Cooper even if he didn’t allow the family to observe filming due to a closed set.
She was asked about a moment in the movie when her character asks her father about the veracity of rumours about his bisexuality.
“This incident did happen,” she said. “I wrote about it in my memoir. Bradley read my book. We don’t know whether our mother encouraged him to obfuscate these rumours. We don’t know exactly why my father decided to deny everything. It’s my speculation that perhaps our mother encouraged him to that direction. I wrote quite a bit in my book about what we went through as a family in relation to my father’s sexuality. It was challenging and confusing but the love and connectedness that our family always had was able to tide us through the difficult moments”.
Maestro tells the complex love story of Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan) over 30 years. Well known for his score to Broadway’s West Side Story and the classic Marlon Brando film On the Waterfront, Bernstein married the actress in 1951 and went on to share three children. Complicating the dynamic between the duo were the affairs he had over the years, with both men and women, even as they were conducted with Felicia’s consenting awareness. The pair were separated at one point for a period of a year, though they ultimately stayed together until Felicia’s death in 1978.
Cooper wrote the Maestro script with Spotlight Oscar winner Josh Singer, and is also joined in the ensemble by Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Scott Ellis, Gideon Glick, Sam Nivola, Alexa Swinton and Miriam Shor.
Joining him in producing his latest feature, set in the world of music, were Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger. Exec producers included Carla Raij, Singer, Bobby Wilhelm, Weston Middleton and Tracey Landon.